Tag Archives: happiness

When Emotional Intelligence and Social Media Collide at Work

By Beth Armknecht Miller

People who display high levels of emotional intelligence (eq) are hyper-aware of the impact their presence and communication approaches have on others. They are able to readily adapt their behaviors and communication styles to the situation. This issue now transcends interpersonal interactions and extends to our own personal social media communications. One improper or poorly conceived post, tweet or update can quickly turn viral and adversely impact both you and your employer.

Emotional Intelligence in Our Working Lives:

Emotional intelligence in the workplace is far more important today than it was just two generations ago. Our parents and grandparents worked in a world where manufacturing ruled the day. Workers were responsible for specific tasks, and they rarely interacted with others. They followed a process and there was very little room for interpretation.

Today’s workplace, however, is all about teamwork, cooperation, and communication. Communication is critical in all areas of business, and as technology continues to infiltrate all aspects of interpersonal communication, both verbal and written skills are extremely important.  Since so many workers depend on teams to get their jobs done, emotional intelligence is a critical factor for success. Employees at all levels—from hourly customer service reps all the way through the C-Suite—must exhibit the ability to read and react appropriately to others.


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When employees are unable to manage their emotional intelligence there can be a negative impact on your organization. And when social media is added to the mix, the impact can go viral and be more significant.

Online Emotional Intelligence is Essential

We live in a world where we can share our thoughts and opinions on social media and instantly broadcast them to the entire world.

  On one hand, social media can be used as a tool to develop thought leadership and establish yourself as an expert in your field. On the other hand, one poorly timed or ill-planned tweet, photo, comment or post can land you and your firm in a boatload of hot water.

Online self-regulation is a critical skill — and it’s a skill that not everyone has a handle on. It can be difficult to follow and keep up with social media etiquette. It is also incredibly difficult to infer tone and meaning in 140 character messages.

People are quick to react to others, and they often forget that the entire world has access to that reaction. It is critical to understand how every word “said” online can be, will be, or could be perceived by the general public. Even a small lapse in judgment can be catastrophic for your reputation or the image of your firm.

Viral Tweets have cost people their jobs, from hourly service workers all the way through corporate executives. They have also damaged corporate reputations and impacted business effectiveness.

Whether CEO or receptionist, everyone must begin to develop online skills that support success. There have been numerous examples of this over recent years in which people have lost their jobs because of a social media misstep, and because of social media, the world learned about their blunder.

Emotional Intelligence and Customer Interaction

Emotional Intelligence is not just important for internal and online communications. When you build a team of individuals who each have and display strong emotional intelligence, it will have a positive impact on customer relationships, as well.

Emotional intelligence has always been a critically important skill  for those employees who have direct contact with customers or the general public. When an employee comes face-to-face (or voice-to-voice, or even text-to-text) with a customer, they become the company to that customer. They must be able to read the customer’s verbal and nonverbal cues, they must respond in kind, and they must never, ever react inappropriately.

We all remember those interactions with a call center representative who was sympathetic to our problem even when we might have been extremely angry and frustrated. We also remember the person who was unable to handle the conflict over the phone and all of a sudden you hear crickets and then a busy signal. They have hung up on you!

Tempering your response can be a challenge when a customer is angry, hurling insults, or even telling untruths. Employees with a high degree of emotional intelligence will always know how to react in these situations without escalating the problem. They will also know how to capitalize on happy customer interactions to help strengthen and reinforce the relationship.

The Bottom Line:

We used to think of emotional intelligence strictly in terms of leadership. However, employees at all levels must be able to exhibit emotional intelligence in all types of workplace and public scenarios. When employees are self-aware and tuned in to others, productivity and customer relationships will improve. And as a leader, it is your job to identify those who are challenged with their emotional intelligence and help coach them through these challenges so they can be a more productive and effective leader.

About the Author

Beth Armknecht Miller is a Certified Managerial Coach and CEO of Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. Her latest book is, “Are You Talent Obsessed?: Unlocking the secrets to a workplace team of raving high-performers.

Read the original article HERE

The Emotion That Leads to Deception


Have you ever felt so angry about a specific incident that you couldn’t stop your negative feelings from spilling over into some unrelated aspect of your life? If the answer is yes, then you are far from alone. A study from Maurice Schweitzer, Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions, and Wharton lecturer and research scholar Jeremy Yip shows that anger can influence people in organizations to lie or behave deceptively in areas that have nothing to do with the original conflict.

Their paper, “Mad and Misleading: Incidental Anger Promotes Deception,” has intriguing implications for the workplace, where unaddressed anger can simmer into bigger problems for a company and its employees. Schweitzer and Yip recently spoke to Knowledge@Wharton about their findings.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Knowledge@Wharton: Please give us an overview of your research.

Jeremy Yip: Our work establishes this link between feeling angry and deceiving others. Deception is a common behavior that occurs in organizations and poses a significant challenge in a variety of interpersonal interactions. For example, in job interviews, candidates may provide misleading statements in order to create a positive impression. In negotiations, negotiators will lie about their bottom line in order to claim more value.

What we investigated here was whether incidental anger — anger that’s triggered by an unrelated situation — can promote the use of deception. What we found was that people who feel angry are more likely to lie to others. We also find that when people are angry, they become less concerned about how their actions impact others. This disinhibits them to engage in self-serving deception.

Knowledge@Wharton: One of the interesting ideas in the study is that there is this free-floating anger from something else that gets transferred to another situation. Is that right?

Maurice Schweitzer: Yeah, that’s a really important point. What we study is what’s called incidental anger — anger that’s triggered by some unrelated event. You might have had an argument with your spouse and then have a meeting at work. Or you might have had a disagreement with one partner and end up meeting with a different partner. If the situation is completely unrelated, that anger should not influence our behavior. But we find that it actually does. This anger bleeds into this unrelated situation. We become more likely to engage in deception just because we were angry before, and that anger still influences and guides our behavior.

“People who feel angry are more likely to lie to others.”–Jeremy Yip

Knowledge@Wharton: Why does it lead to deception and not just hostility?

Schweitzer: What we found is that the anger, as Jeremy was explaining, disinhibits us. We become less empathetic, so we care less about other people in general. We’re now more free or liberated to pursue our self-interests. Across our studies, we find that when people feel anger, they’re really less concerned about other people. They’re not interested in retaliation or randomly harming other people. It’s really just a diminished concern for others, and the pursuit of self-interest now just gets carried away. It’s no longer checked by our empathy for others. That’s how we usually operate. When we’re feeling angry, we just care less about others. And what we find is that now the deception becomes much more likely to occur.

Knowledge@Wharton: What were the key takeaways from this study?

Yip: In our investigation, we focused on self-serving deception. These are lies that advantage the liar at the expense of a target. When people are telling self-serving lies, they’re often engaging in this calculus between what are the costs and benefits for themselves, but also what are the costs and benefits for others. What we find is that anger influences these calculations, where angry people become more focused on the benefits to themselves and discount the harm that they may cause others. That leads them to engage in deception.

Our key findings are that when you feel angry, even when it’s triggered by an unrelated situation, you’re more likely to lie. We also find, as Maurice mentioned, that angry people are less empathetic. And that disinhibits them to engage in self-interested behavior such as lying. We also found that the influence of anger on deception is unique to anger, and not to just any negative emotion. We contrasted the influence of anger with the influence of sadness on deception, and we actually found that only anger predicted deceptive behavior.

Knowledge@Wharton: I think of deception as something you precalculate, as opposed to an immediate reaction. But anger is an emotion that would make someone act quickly without thinking, so there’s a little disconnect there for me. How did that come out in your research? I know you did four studies to come up with your conclusions, right?

Schweitzer: That’s right. We did a series of studies, and in all these studies we find the same pattern. This anger is triggered by an unrelated event. You get very negative feedback or watch something that’s very disturbing. Across several different inductions, we find that this anger that’s triggered immediately does bleed into this somewhat more strategic behavior. That is, it changes our calculus. The key idea is we just become less empathetic. We care less about others, and we’re more focused on our self-interest. That narrowed focus is what guides us to exhibit this self-interested behavior, which in our case was deception. It’s unethical, but it’s also advancing our self-interest at the expense of others.

Knowledge@Wharton: It’s easy to see how that would apply in so many areas of life, politics, world relations and everything else. But in the workplace, what are the implications? And is there anything that people can do about this?

Yip: Well, we urge leaders, managers and employees to recognize that in our angry moments, we may lose our moral compass. We suggest that managers pay close attention to monitoring their employees when they notice that they’re angry. Because angry employees are more likely to cheat.

Knowledge@Wharton: Is there a propensity now in someone who is angry to do something that isn’t going good for the organization?

Schweitzer: Yes. I think as Jeremy’s pointing out, it’s important for us to recognize it’s true for us. That is, our own moral compass becomes less clearly pointed north when we feel angry. And it’s true for others. That is, other people are going to behave more strategically and in a more self-interested way and a less ethical way when they’re feeling angry. Again, it could be some unrelated trigger that has made them feel that way.

Knowledge@Wharton: Are you suggesting that there’s a benefit to developing some kind of a self-awareness in people that will benefit the organization?

Yip: I think the goal is to make employees themselves aware of their inclinations when they are feeling angry. Deception conceptualizes a cognitive process. What we’re showing here is how emotions can have a profound influence on that process. But we also want to urge leaders and managers to recognize this behavior in their employees and perhaps intervene in that. There’s other related research that shows that when people become aware that their emotions are incidental or irrelevant, that can also diminish the effects of that emotion on behavior.

“If the situation is completely unrelated, that anger should not influence our behavior. But we find that it actually does.”–Maurice Schweitzer

Knowledge@Wharton: What surprises came out your research?

Yip: We contrasted angry people with neutral people when there was an incentive that was present and when there was an incentive that was absent. What we found was that we were able to disentangle the motive to harm others from the motive to pursue the self-interest. So, when people are angry, they’re not being punitive and harming anyone around them. Instead, what we’re finding is that when people are angry, that anger curtails empathy. And that leads to more self-interested behavior. In this case, self-serving lies.

Knowledge@Wharton: What sets this research apart from other research in these areas?

Schweitzer: One key idea here is this link between emotion and cognition. How we feel, even if it’s unrelated to the current situation, influences how we think and how we act. In this case, we’re linking anger with deceptive, unethical behavior. This is the first work to do that. We often feel angry in the workplace. We often feel angry when we’re in a conflict with somebody else. And our work is the first to demonstrate that when we feel anger, it could actually lead us to engage in underhanded and more self-interested behavior in ways that we might not normally condone. And certainly as an organization, we should be highly aware of.

Knowledge@Wharton: It suggests that conflict-resolution interventions and courses would benefit an organization in a couple of ways. It’s not just that you have less conflict and maybe more cooperation, but also you could curtail some of the deception that could come out of the conflict.

Schweitzer: Right, absolutely. We should recognize that the feelings that others have are going to guide their behavior in predictable ways, and we should be sensitive to that. Jeremy mentioned that recognizing emotions might help diminish their effects. But we should also be broadly aware that how we’re feeling is likely to influence how we think and behave. In some cases, we might be able to curtail unethical behavior by muting that anger.

It’s not that when we’re feeling angry, we want to retaliate against other people or pay it forward. Somebody was angry at me or somebody blocked my goal, and I want to go take it out on somebody else. That’s not what we observed. What we found was that people just became much more self-interested, self-serving, and they became less constrained by concern for others in advancing their own goals. I think that’s one of the things that I think was most surprising about this work.

Knowledge@Wharton: Where will you take this research next?

Yip: These findings have informed some of our current work investigating the relationship between anger and perspective-taking. What we’re beginning to find that’s consistent with some of the work that we’ve just discussed is that when people feel angry, they become more egocentric. Perspective-taking is a different type of cognitive process where people adopt another person’s viewpoint in the situation. We are learning that people who feel angry tend to anchor on their own viewpoint and not adjust to or accommodate other people’s viewpoints.

Read the original article HERE

11 tricks to motivate yourself to reach your goals


Motivating yourself to do stuff is hard.

When it’s just you on your living-room floor, it’s tempting to do a few push-ups and quit, even though you said you’d do 20. And when it’s Saturday morning and you’re supposed to be working on that novel you said you’d write, it’s easy just to… not.

Over on Quora, there are more than 100 potential solutions to this problem, included on the thread, “How can I motivate myself to work hard?

Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best tips and strategies on there. Read on and find out how to give yourself a kick in the pants when you need it most.

1. Change the way you talk to yourself

Quora user Bhaskar Bagchi writes about being a success seeker, as opposed to a failure avoider. It’s an idea attributable to a TEDx talk by Scott Geller, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Virginia Tech.

In the talk, Geller says finding self-motivation is about reframing the way you talk to yourself. For example, if you’re a student, do you go to class so you don’t get kicked out of school (i.e. failure avoidance)? Or do you go to class so you learn more and get closer to your career goals (i.e. success seeking)? Chances are, you’ll be much more motivated to perform well in the second scenario.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others

When you feel like you’re falling behind on your goals, it’s tempting to look around at all the people who seem to be achieving theirs.

But that tendency will only undermine your confidence and your ability to make progress, says Micha Kaufman.

“A case of the Joneses is about the best way to make you feel like you’re worth nothing,” he writes. “When such comparisons enter your head, recognize that these are just negative thoughts and let them pass.”

Research suggests another reason why comparing yourself to others isn’t a great idea. We’re notoriously poor judges of how other people are feeling, meaning we think that everyone else is happy all the time and we’re the only ones struggling, when in fact other people are probably in the same boat.

3. Understand your purpose

“Find your why,” says Nelson Wang. “If you don’t know what it is, create it.”

Research supports Wang’s idea. One study found that call center employees at a public university performed significantly better when they met students who had benefited from donations to the school. In other words, learning about the potential impact of their efforts motivated them to work harder.

4. Keep a daily diary

Gerard Danford mentions research by Teresa Amabile, Ph.D., a professor at Harvard Business School, which found that making even a little bit of progress can be tremendously motivating for workers.

That’s why it helps to record your progress along the way — for example, a phone call you made to help secure a sale. That way, you can look back at the end of the day and feel empowered to take another step forward tomorrow.

“Keep track of your small wins,” Amabile says in a video posted on Academy Bridge. “Keep track of your progress every day. That can be very motivational.”

One way to keep track of that progress is to write a “done list,” which features everything useful you did today (as opposed to a to-do list, which indicates how far you have left to go).

5. Remember where you started

Once you start keeping a diary, flip back to your entries from a few weeks or months ago.

“It can be very motivating to look back at where you came from,” writes Ben Baert, because you’ll realize that you’re capable of making great strides.

For example, Baert says, “if you’re learning how to draw, draw something (a cup, a tree, an animal), then draw the same thing again after a couple of weeks/months. Then compare with the original. That moment will be very motivational.”

6. Don’t fear criticism

No one likes to hear that they’re doing something wrong. But try to keep your emotions in check.

“Consider the source and decide if the person really has the expertise or knowledge to make his or her comments,” writes MaRina Abaza. “If you decide that the words are not just empty accusations, look at it as an opportunity to improve yourself.”

In fact, psychologist and executive coach Marshall Goldsmith says that other people’s perceptions of you can be even more important than your perception of you, especially in the workplace. That’s because their feedback allows you to compare the self you want to be with the self you’re really presenting to the rest of the world.

If you approach the criticism with a clear head, it could end up being exactly the motivation you need.

7. Set a quit time

When you need to get stuff done, it can seem like the only strategy is to work as hard as you can for as long as possible.

But that technique is usually counterproductive and can easilylead to burnout.

Instead, Matt Holmes recommends imposing some deadlines and taking breaks.

It’s “important to recognize when enough is enough,” he says. “Set a realistic quitting time for yourself, and stick to it at least most days of the week. Stop answering emails after 8 p.m., or take Sundays off. You’ll feel more refreshed and more productive when you allow yourself some down time.”

8. Spend time with smart people

It’s always intimidating to be in a room full of super-intelligent, super-knowledgeable folks — say, at a professional conference. But the experience can prompt you to challenge yourself to work harder than you thought you could.

Devansh Malik recommends spending time with people “who know way more than you about anything and everything. This will encourage you to learn more and to achieve [so] that you’ll automatically work hard.”

9. Rely on habits

Try as you might to summon it, sometimes motivation will elude you.

That’s why Eduardo Matos suggests turning your desired behaviors — like studying — into habits.

“It’s better to build the habit of studying X hours/day, and do it religiously, [so that] very soon you’re going to be studying automatically,” he writes.

One reason why practicing habits often trumps finding motivation is that you don’t have to exercise your willpower to make the choice to study. It’s simply something you do without thinking.

To start, figure out both the cue and reward for your old habit. For example, maybe you have a bag of chips each day when you get home from work because it relaxes you. If you want to start a healthier habit, you can use arriving home as the cue to change into your jogging gear, and that warm and fuzzy post-exercise feeling as the reward. Soon the exercise habit will have replaced snacking, and you won’t need to muster up the motivation to jog every day after work.

10. Anticipate difficulties

If you prepare for challenges instead of pretending they won’t come up, you’ll be better equipped to fight them when they do arise.

Writes Sean Johnson:

“In the beginning, it will feel uncomfortable. That’s to be expected.

“Anticipate this, and come up with a strategy for dealing with it in advance. Tell yourself ‘when I get frustrated and want to quit, I will _______.’ Your blank could take many forms — a reminder of some goal that your new focus will help you achieve, a reward you’ll treat yourself to at the end of the day, etc.”

Johnson’s suggestion sounds similar to “if/when/then” planning. Here’s how it works:

You pick a cue: a specific time or place. Then you pick a desirable action that you can link to that cue.

So if your goal is to lose weight, your plan might be “when I get frustrated and want to quit, I will call my most supportive friend.” That way, your brain will be programmed to have you dial said friend — instead of eat a cupcake — every time you get down on yourself.

11. Focus on the process

You’ve heard it before: Life is a journey, not a destination.

Matthew Jones writes: “Sometimes you find more motivation when you stop focusing on the final destination and start enjoying the journey. Paying too much attention to the end goal produces stress and anxiety that wears you down with time, but when you fall in love with the process itself, you become revitalized.”

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely gave Business Insider an example of how focusing on the process might help if your goal is to exercise more.

Ariely’s best advice is to schedule time for a workout and trust that you’ll like it once you get started. Because once you do, thoughts of getting stronger and looking better — the likely outcomes of exercising regularly — kind of melt away. Instead you take in the sensation of your breath, the music coming through your headphones, and the sound of your feet hitting the ground.

In other words, your in-the-moment experience matters as much as or more than the end result.

Read the original article HERE

Wayne Dyer’s 12-Step Program to Simplicity

By Wayne Dyer

Wayne Dyer’s 12-Step Program to Simplicity is excerpted with permission from Chapter 8 of Wayne Dyer’s book, Living An Inspired Life.

For a moment, let’s imagine what it would be like to be fully alive without a physical shell or any of the stuff we need and desire for maintaining life on Earth.

We’d have a mental energy that allowed us to move forward or backward, up or down, instantly creating whatever we desired. We’d be free to wallow in an exquisite existence without time or space as we know it.

We’d be in a state of pure bliss, in love with everything and everyone. We’d have no duties or bills to tend to, no fear of losing anything, no one judging us, no possessions to insure, no demands on our time, and no goals to achieve.

What we’re envisioning is actually the world of Spirit, which we experienced before we came here and will return to when we shed our body (or as William Butler Yeats poetically called it, our “tattered coat upon a stick”).

Remember that a central premise of this book is that inspiration is a state of being here now in this material world, while at the same time reconnecting to our spiritual origins. In order to be receptive to inspiration, we need to eliminate the ego clutter that accumulates all too easily for most of us—after all, if we’re preoccupied with events and activities that have nothing to do with inspiration, we’re unlikely to notice its summons. So in order to achieve a reunion with our ultimate calling, we need to emulate the clear, uncomplicated world of Spirit.

While the theme of this chapter is that inspiration is simple, this doesn’t mean that we should sit around doing nothing, awaiting Spirit’s arrival; instead, it means having faith that our spiritual connection flourishes in a life dedicated to joy, love, and peace. If our daily activities are so overwhelming that we don’t make [joy, love, and peace] our priority, then we’re disregarding the value of living a simple life.

The 12-Step Program to Simplicity

Rather than giving you some general suggestions for implementing the ideas herein, I’m going to give you 12 very specific tools for simplifying your life. Begin using them today if you’re serious about hearing that ultimate call to inspiration.

You’ll feel a real rush of inspiration when you clear out stuff that’s no longer useful in your life:

  1. If you haven’t worn it in the past year or two, recycle it for others to use.
  2. Get rid of old files that take up space and are seldom, if ever, needed.
  3. Donate unused toys, tools, books, bicycles, and dishes to a charitable organization.

Read the Full Article HERE


Is kindness a luxury?

By Seth Godin

Luxury goods are only consumed when we’ve got enough. You shouldn’t go shopping for a Birkin bag with your last dollar.

It’s easy to believe that kindness is like that. We need more reserves, perhaps, before we can expend some of what we’ve got in this generous way.

You’ve had a hard day, it’s raining out, the world is changing, your boss is mean to you, the checking account is overdrawn, you’re on deadline…

But… Does every need have to be filled, every emotion in place before we’re capable of being kind?

Do we have to have enough money, enough confidence about the future and enough of everything else we crave before we can find the space to offer someone else a hand?

It turns out that the opposite is true. That kindness is a foundation for the rest. That investing time and resources in extending ourselves shifts the rest of our needs in precisely the right direction, not only putting us closer to satisfying those other needs, but enjoying the journey as well.

Kindness rewards the giver as well.

Read the original article HERE

You Can Improve Your Default Response to Stress

By Michelle Gielan

One morning while anchoring The Early Show in New York, one of my coanchors got mixed up and tossed the show to me five minutes before I was slated to appear for my next segment, which was covering breaking news on political corruption in Washington. The teleprompter was cued to a different story, which, if I remember correctly, was about cats at a local shelter. I found myself live on national television in front of millions of viewers — with the wrong setup, and with a video of shelter cats instead of fat cats in Washington.

It is moments like these that test a person. And it’s not the problem itself, but our response to it, that matters in our careers and in our lives. In my work now as a positive psychology researcher, I study the mindset of people who overcome high-stress challenges both big and small and who thrive amid adversity. The conclusion of our most recent study: 91% of us could get better at dealing with stress.

In a study we conducted in partnership with Plasticity Labs, my research colleagues, Shawn Achor (my husband) and Brent Furl, and I found that it’s not so much why we worry that’s important; it’s how we respond to stimuli in the environment that matters. When a challenge strikes, our response can typically be categorized along three specific, testable dimensions:

  • Cool under pressure. Are you calm and collected, giving your brain a chance to see a path forward, or is your mind filled with anxious, worried, and stressful thoughts that wear you out?
  • Open communicator. Do you share your struggles with people in your life in a way that creates connections, or do you keep them to yourself and suffer in silence?
  • Active problem solver. Do you face challenges head-on and make a plan, or do you deny the reality of what’s happening in your life and distract yourself?

These three dimensions are central to optimally responding to stress and are highly predictive of our long-term well-being and success at work. In short, it’s what you think, say, and do that have the biggest impact on your well-being. By understanding our personal pitfalls when it comes to responding to problems, we can shift our thinking and behavior to respond better and pay less of an emotional cost after the stressful event is over.

Understanding your current default response to stress is the first step to crafting a more adaptive cognitive pattern. After testing more than 5,000 people using our validated assessment, the Stress Response Scale, we found that the majority of respondents at work have two suboptimal responses to stress: 27% of people are what we lovingly call “Venters” and 26% are “Five Alarmers.”

We all know a Venter at work. Venters are highly expressive and therefore very open about stressful events in their lives, which is actually a very positive trait. Previous research shows that talking to others about challenges (without overdoing it) can connect us more deeply with the people around us and is connected with having more friends and close colleagues as well as greater happiness. However, Venters don’t fare as well along the other two dimensions: being able to maintain a cool head under pressure and active problem solving to devise a plan. In other words, while Venters are able to acknowledge and communicate about their stress, that is where they stop. They vent without providing or creating a positive action to respond to the stress. Our study found that Venters have a correlation with decreased well-being, performance, and long-term career successes at work, as well as with less overall happiness in life.

Five Alarmers also are very good at communicating that they are stressed (everyone hears about it) but while Venters stop there, Five Alarmers take concrete actions to solve the problem. This sounds great, but because Five Alarmers do not differentiate between low stresses and high stresses, instead responding to every stress as if it is a five-alarm fire, they suffer a massive emotional cost when all is said and done. Being a Five Alarmer is exhausting. Experiencing consistent emotional spikes is also predictive of higher burnout and exhaustion, and guilt after you’ve made a decision.

So while more than half of individuals at work fall into one of these two categories, there is a much more adaptive response to stress and challenge. People who are what we call “Calm Responders,” those who rationally and calmly respond to challenges, test high on the three measures and generally enjoy the highest levels of happiness and success. Calm Responders typically have a handful of trusted advisors, and after tapping one or two, quickly move to the action phase. Studies have shown those who are more expressive — without being so expressive that they get stuck in the venting phase — often have more close friends and are happier overall.

The most important part of this research is that all three of these dimensions are malleable, and therefore can change over time if we focus on them. If you’d like to train your brain to be calmer the next time a stressful event arises, make a list right now of five stressful events from your past that you were successful at solving (for example, maybe you got through the breakup of a relationship or made a tight deadline on a big project), and then look at the list the next time you feel your heart starting to race, to remind yourself of those accomplishments. If you tend to bottle up stress or deny negative events, phone a friend the next time a stressor arises. If you’re distracting yourself instead of creating an action plan, get yourself to choose a “now step,” a small, meaningful action you can take right away that might not solve the whole problem but that will get your brain moving forward.

Rewriting our response to stress can take time, but it is possible, and that effort can have a lasting effect on our success and happiness for the rest of our lives. For me, learning the skill of being cool under pressure helped me better navigate unexpected situations both on TV and off, and that has made all the difference in my life and my career.

Read the original article HERE

Mindfully Free of Wanting People to Be a Certain Way


One of the biggest sources of difficulties for every single human being is the desire for people to be a certain way.

We can’t seem to help it: we want the world to be the way we want it. Unfortunately, reality always has different plans, and people behave in less-than-ideal ways.

The problem isn’t other people. It’s our ideals.

Yes, I think it would be great if people stopped killing animals for food and fashion, and became vegan instead. But that’s not the reality I’m faced with, and it’s not going to happen for quite some time, if ever.

Yes, I think it would be great if my kids behaved perfectly all the time, but that’s not the reality of kids. Or any human beings, for that matter.

Yes, it would be great if my wife always agreed with me, but that’s not going to happen.

So the problem is:

  • We have ideals about how people should act, or ways we’d like them to be.
  • People don’t act in those ideal ways, or aren’t the way we’d like them to be.
  • We get bothered by that reality. Frustrated, angry, sad, disappointed, stressed.
  • This makes us unhappy, and damages our relationships with others.

This is obviously not great.

We have a couple options:

  1. Stick rigidly to the way we want people to be, and be upset when they don’t meet those ideals.
  2. Stick rigidly to the way we want people to be, and try really hard to make them be that way. (This pretty much never works.)
  3. Let go of the ideals and be happier and less frustrated.

When we think about it this way, it’s obvious that option 3 is the best route. We’ll talk about this option soon, but let’s talk about a couple objections first.

Objections to Letting Go

When people are confronted with the idea of letting go of their ideals about other people, they usually have a few objections:

  • Objection: But then people get away with bad behavior. There’s a difference between wanting someone to behave a certain way (and getting upset when they don’t) … and accepting that a person is acting a certain way, and then compassionately finding an appropriate response. In the first case, you are angry at them for their behavior, and your response out of anger is likely to make things worse. In the second case, you aren’t bothered too much, but can see that their behavior is harmful and want to help them not harm. You can’t actually control them, but you can try to help. If you try to help but need them to accept your help, then it will be continued frustration. Help but let go of the ideal outcome you’d like from your offered help.
  • Objection: But what about abusive behavior? There’s a difference between being agonized about the abuse, and accepting that the person is abusive and taking appropriate action. Letting go of your ideals about how the abusive person should act doesn’t mean you let them abuse you. It just means you accept that they are an abuser, while taking the appropriate action of getting away from them, and reporting them or seeking help for them if it’s appropriate. Don’t leave yourself in a place where you’re being harmed, but that doesn’t mean you have to be afflicted by someone else’s actions.
  • Objection: But then we don’t make the world a better place. If people behave in less-than-ideal ways, you can agonize about it while trying to change them, or you can accept that the world is not ideal … but calmly and compassionately work to help others. In both cases, you’re trying to do good … but in the second case, you’re not agonizing about how things are.

So these objections are all about wanting to change people’s bad behavior. This article is about inner acceptance of “bad” behavior (or what I think of as “not ideal”) … but once you have inner acceptance, you can take appropriate external action. That might be helping, being compassionate, getting to safety, talking calmly and lovingly to someone, reporting abusive behavior, getting counseling, or many more appropriate actions that come from a place of love, compassion and understanding rather than frustration and anger.

Letting Go of Ideals

So how do you let go of wanting people to be a certain way?

First, reflect on how these ideals are harming you and others. This wanting your way, this wanting a specific version of reality … is making you frustrated, unhappy, angry. It’s harming your relationship. It’s likely making the other person unhappy as well. This is all caused by an attachment to expectations and ideals.

Next, reflect on wanting yourself and others to be happy. If the ideals and expectations are harming yourself and others … wouldn’t it be nice to stop harming yourself? Wouldn’t it be nice to be happy instead of frustrated? Think about the desire to have a better relationship with other people as well, and for them to be happier in their relationship with you. This is your intention, and it is one of love.

Third, notice the ideals and frustrations as they arise. See when someone else is frustrating you, and reflect on what ideal you’re holding for them. How do you want them to behave instead? Don’t get caught up in your story of why they should behave that way, but instead just take note of the ideal. See that this ideal is harming you. Decide that it’s not useful to you.

Also notice your mental pattern of resentment when someone doesn’t meet your expectations, and decide to try to catch it early. It’s a pattern you can be aware of and catch early, and decide to change your pattern.

Next, mindfully observe the tightness. Turn your attention to your body, the tightness that comes from holding on to this ideal. Pay attention to how it feels, the quality of the energy in your body, where it’s located, how it changes. In this moment of observing, you are awake, rather than being stuck in the daydream of your story about why this person should be behaving differently.

At this point, you can decide to try a different pattern.

A Different Way

So now, you can practice a different way of being.

Here are some ideas I’ve found useful:

  • Instead of fixing on one way this person (or situation) should be, be open to other possibilities. Open yourself to lots of different ways this person or situation can be.
  • Try to understand the person, rather than judging them based on limited information. Try to understand why they’d act this way — perhaps they are afraid. Perhaps they’re suffering in some way. Perhaps this is their strategy for protecting themselves.
  • Try to see the good-hearted nature of their actions, rather than one where they are a bad person. For example, you might see that they are tender-hearted and afraid, and so are acting out of fear. Or they just want to be happy, and this is their strategy for being happy. Or maybe they have good intentions and want to help, but are misguided. We all have a good heart deep down inside, but it might take several layers to see that. Anger can stem from jealousy which stems from insecurities and fear, which stems from a tender-hearted worry that we’re not good enough. The angry action isn’t justified, but there is still a good heart at the core.
  • See their suffering that causes their actions and know that you have suffered in the same way. Remember how that suffering feels, so you can see what they’re going through. Compassionately wish for an end to their suffering.
  • Tell yourself that you don’t know how people should act. Honestly, I don’t always know how I should act … I am fooling myself if I think I know how other people should act. Instead, I might be curious about their actions.
  • See the other person as a teacher. They are helping you practice mindfulness, and let go of your old patterns. They are teaching you about reality vs. ideals, about how humans act.
  • Relax. Seriously, see the tightness you’re holding, and just relax. Smile. Be happy in this present moment.
  • Practice see the goodness in the other person, in yourself, and in the present moment. There is always an underlying goodness in this moment, if you choose to notice. Trust in this goodness, and you’ll be afraid less and happier more.

These are some practices. Try them, practice them over and over. I think you’ll be happier for it, and every relationship will be better.

Read the original article HERE

How to Improve Your Self-Confidence at Work in 2017

By Anne Fisher

Dear Annie: Your recent column about how to go from an “ideas person” to “management material” really struck a nerve with me because, like that other reader, I was just passed over for a promotion too, for a somewhat different reason. My boss told me I don’t speak up enough, especially in team meetings where someone disagrees with me or starts picking apart an idea I’ve recommended. He said I need to “work on my self-confidence.” It’s true that I tend to back down if someone challenges me, because I don’t want the meeting to deteriorate into an argument. But I’ve made a New Year’s resolution to be more confident. The question is, how? Any suggestions? —Wendy the Wallflower

Dear W.W.: Actually, yes. First, keep in mind that your reluctance to risk conflict with colleagues by sticking up for yourself is a particular hurdle for women, and that’s partly for good reason: Decades of research have shown that strong, assertive women are often perceived as less “likable,” and hence less likely to get ahead, than their male peers.

Even so, “there are plenty of people, and not just women, who lack the self-confidence to be comfortable speaking up in meetings,” observes Andy Molinsky. A professor of organizational behavior at Brandeis University’s International Business School, Molinsky wrote a book forthcoming in January that you might want to check out.

Called Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge, and Build Confidence, it’s packed with real-life stories, based on Molinsky’s 15 years of research, about all kinds of people—from executives to actors to goat farmers—who conquered various anxieties that were holding them back. By analyzing exactly how they did it, Molinsky came up with a step-by-step system that he says will work for anyone who’s trying to get beyond his or her own comfort zone.

The starting point is what Molinsky calls the three Cs: clarity, conviction, and customization. Clarity has to do with the fact that your own perception of a situation may need some adjusting. For instance, hesitating to defend your ideas “often arises from not wanting to ‘turn the meeting into an argument,’ as you say, or be seen as a troublemaker,” Molinsky notes. “But is that really accurate? If you ask around, you’ll probably find that people you work with would respect you even more if you were more assertive. They may actually expect people to speak up and defend their ideas.” Obviously, your boss does.

The next step, conviction, is about the reasons why you want to be more self-confident—not just to get promoted, but to express your thoughts and describe your work in ways that will make the best use of your smarts and help the organization. Old habits are notoriously tough to break, and a foray out of one’s comfort zone isn’t quick or easy, so Molinsky suggests giving yourself lots of what psychologists call positive reinforcement: “Keep reminding yourself that building your self-confidence is worth doing, and why.”

One of Molinsky’s most fascinating findings, in Reach, has to do with the third step, customization. It turns out that people who seem effortlessly skillful at tasks many of us dread—public speaking, for instance, or delivering bad news to a team—usually started out disliking (and avoiding) these things just as much as the rest of us. The difference is, they’ve learned to make it look easy by customizing whatever the task is, so that they do it their own way.

You can, too. One approach that works: “Before a meeting where you think you may have to stand up for yourself, think of specific words and phrases you could use,” Molinsky suggests. “You could say, for example, ‘You’re making a good point, but here’s what we may be overlooking…’ The key is to practice asserting yourself in ways that don’t seem to you (emphasis his) likely to turn the meeting into an argument.”

This will take some practice. Molinsky recommends you try it out before the next big team meeting with a mentor or other trusted coworker. You can also give your ideas a test drive with small groups of colleagues in what he calls “pre-meetings“.

If you find yourself slipping back to your wallflower ways, be patient and keep trying. “Sometimes it really helps to remember that it’s not just you,” Molinsky notes. “Everyone struggles with having to move beyond his or her comfort zone at some time or other.” The effort, he adds, “usually creates a kind of positive spiral, where one small success leads to another, and then another. People are often surprised to find that making even a major change is not as hard as they thought it would be.” Here’s hoping that’s true for you, too.

Happy New Year!

Read the original article HERE

The Secret to Negotiating Is Reading People’s Faces

By Kasia Wezowski

Although most of us like to think of ourselves as rational decision makers, ample research shows that emotions play an outsized role in negotiations. If you can’t read what your counterpart is feeling and instead focus only on what he or she is saying, you’re highly unlikely to achieve everything you could have.

Of course, experienced negotiators know how to mask their true feelings. They choose their words, tone, body language, and expressions carefully. To the average observer, they often appear neutral, impassive. Or they’re able to convincingly fake an emotion if they think it will help them advance their own interests.

However, there is a way to read what your counterpart is feeling even if they are deliberately trying to hide it from you. The secret is to pay attention to the spontaneous and involuntary microexpressions that rapidly flit across everyone’s faces at times of intense emotion. If you know what to look for, they can provide an instant, honest window into how your counterpart is feeling.

Here are some examples of common microexpressions (as depicted by Patryk Wezowski — my husband and business partner — and me):

As you can see, it’s quite easy to recognize the meaning behind the expression on a still photo. In a real-life situation, however, when the stakes are high and the microexpression lasts for as little as one 25th of a second, it’s a different game entirely.

In my work as a body language researcher and instructor, I’ve long theorized that one of the key differences between exceptional negotiators or salespeople and those who are merely average is the ability to read these microexpressions, gauge visceral reactions to ideas or proposals, then strategically steer them toward a preferred outcome.

To test this idea, we conducted two experiments using videos like this one, which gauge users’ ability to recognize these expressions.

In the first study, we compared the video test scores of salespeople from the Karnak Stationery Company with their performance and found that those with above average scores noticeably outsold their colleagues. The second experiment involved salespeople from a BMW showroom in Rome, Italy. We found that high performers (who had sold more than 60 automobiles in the most recent quarter) scored almost twice as high on the test as low performers. Our conclusion: Effective negotiators seem to be naturally good readers of microexpressions.

The good news is this isn’t an ability you either have or you don’t. You can learn it, and get better at it over time, with practices tests and in real-life negotiations by following some simple rules:

  • Focus on the face. The next time you ask an important question in a negotiation, focus on your counterpart’s face for at least four seconds, instead of just listening to the words coming out of his or her mouth.
  • Tell a story. Negotiators have an easier time controlling their expressions when they’re talking. So don’t ask too many open questions. Instead describe what you want or share an anecdote about another negotiating partner who shared concerns similar to theirs and watch how they respond as they listen. Their guard will lower a little and you’ll be able to see their honest reactions to what you’re saying — knowledge to guide the rest of the conversation.
  • Present multiple options. As you present a list of choices to negotiating partners, their microexpressions will reveal which they like and which they don’t, sometimes even before they’re consciously aware of their preferences. Watch closely to see what their face tells you about each option.

Here’s how it might work in practice:

Imagine you’re a consultant who has proposed a certain fee for your services: “Based on your requirements, we can propose $100,000 as the consultancy fee for this project.” If you see your potential client show the microexpression of disgust, you can calibrate accordingly and lower your price without skipping a beat: “But because we anticipate a longer term collaboration and are excited about the direction your business is heading in, we can offer you 25% discount.”

What if you instead recognized an expression of happiness or contempt after the initial offer? Maybe your counterpart expected a higher price, or doubts that you’re offering the premium level of service. You could quickly adjust your price in the opposite direction: “That’s the basic fee which covers X and Y. For your project I also recommend our entire suite of services including A, B and C, which means the total price would be closer to $150,000.”

Attention to microexpressions allows you to secretly respond to the feedback your negotiating partners don’t even realize they’re giving, ensuring that you stay in control of the dialogue and achieve better outcomes.

Read the original article HERE